The life of Dali

The Life Of Dali

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Dali was subject to environmental significant formative influences at an early age by his parents.  They spoiled him to an extreme extent and it had a major effect on the shaping of his character.  “His parents, perhaps blaming themselves to a certain extent for the death of their first child, were over-protective with the second and seem habitually to have given him his own way, encouraging a pattern that was to persist until his death.”(1994, p.53)  Dali would throw tantrums until he got what he wanted.  His parents would give in which encouraged him even more.  This insolent behavior didn’t stop with his parents but was the same case with relatives and friends.  “Christmas provided the perfect opportunity, too, for tantrums, and Anna Maria recalled that Salvador used to get so worked up on these visits that he never stopped crying and raging.”(1994, p.53)  This constant attention, which Dali so desperately craved, was constant throughout his life.  This built the eccentric reputation he was so famed for which went along with his unmistakable mustache. 

            Dali was keen on achieving fame and was pushed by his success in his small art shows to the unfortunate death of his mother, which Dali took very hard.  “ The death of Salvador’s mother in February 1921 from cancer was, he wrote in the Secret Life, ‘the greatest blow I had experienced in my life’.  If we can believe this account, her loss made him ever more determined to achieve fame: ‘With my teeth clenched with weeping, I swore to myself that I would snatch my mother from death and destiny with the swords of light that some day would savagely gleam around my glorious name!”(1994, p.61) 

            It seems that Dali’s need to show off seems to have been a defense against a profound sense of personal inadequacy, which is also related to his relationship with his father.  “While supremely confident of his artistic vocation and potential, he was crippled with shame feelings, as he recalls in the Secret Life with a candour unparalleled in the annals of Spanish autobiography.”(1994, p.61)



1.         Raeburn, Michael.  Salvador Dali:  The Early Years.   

London: Thames & Hudson, 1994.  (Pg. 82)

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